Students learn about working environment

​How can I intervene when I see that someone in my surroundings is being mistreated? At Chalmers, students in Nautical Science and Marine Engineering will get a course that gives them tools and the ability to act in uncomfortable and discriminating situations. Known as the ‘Bystander intervention technique’, it is being taught as early as year 1.


Pho​to: J-O Yxell/Chalmers

Since 2020, the mandatory, basic safety training, with a focus on maritime safety and personal security, includes workshops on how to protect yourself and others from harassment.

Johan HartlerThe purpose of the courses’ workshops in Bystander intervention is to give students the ability to act during their studies, at a workplace or in private life where they experience harassment in any form. The fact that it is a part of the mandatory Basic safety training, in addition to fire safety and training in the usage of lifeboats is important, emphasises the Head of programme, Johan Hartler:

“We want to highlight that the psychosocial work environment is very important too. To handle issues regarding harassment is important for creating a sustainable workplace, where people want to stay over a long period of time. Everyone should feel safe in the workplace and during their studies.”

In addition to being able to think about and discuss concrete situations, students get to know more about theoretical background such as knowledge of what harassment is and to learn more about different grounds of discrimination.

#MeToo pointed out the way forward

The ambition of creating a study and work environment free from harassment is an ongoing process at Chalmers. But as the #MeToo movement showed, there was more below the surface than what had previously been known, the university and the student union started the initiative Chalmers against sexism. This initiative resulted in a lot of concreate action, for example "Safe at Chalmers" was created – a digital platform where both employees and students can easily report experiences or occurrences of harassment. In addition, Chalmers has been deeply involved in the shipping industry's #Metoo initiative "Vågrätt".

The team behind the maritime programmes at Chalmers wanted to intensify their offer regarding knowledge of work environment and therefore, issues of harassment  became a part of their Work Environment Days in 2018.

The initiative in 2018 was appreciated by both students and the industry representatives who were on site during the Work Environment Days, and in 2019 the program received funding from the Foundation Sveriges sjömanshus to be able to continue working on harassment together with Linnaeus University. This work has now led to mandatory workshops in the technique Bystander intervention. It is now a part of the Basic safety training since the autumn of 2020. So far, 200 Chalmers students have participated in the workshops and 120 students from Linnaeus University. Johan Hartler has also been visiting the school Öckerö Sjöfartsgymnasium where he held an adjusted session for the students. He thinks that the response from all the students has been good.

“The majority are very positive, but of course, everyone can’t be excited about it. Some people don’t want to absorb the content of the course. But through this initiative, we show what Chalmers ambition is and how we want our students to act when they enter the industry. The message is clear – harassment is totally unacceptable”.

Great interest from the maritime ​sector

There has been a great interest from the maritime sector since the Work Environment Days 2018 and several companies have contacted Johan Hartler and his colleagues at Linnaeus University to learn from their training concept in Bystander intervention.

"We are in contact with several companies, including Skärgårdstrafiken and Gotlandsbolaget, and they want to try to get parts of our course content into their own internal safety trainings, which is great! This has become Chalmers' major contribution to the #Metoo initiative “Vågrätt”. To be able to influence the whole maritime sector in the right direction feels incredibly good!"

Text: Julia Jansson

Page manager Published: Fri 02 Jul 2021.